Middies rally, but fall short vs. Wilmington; Oak Hills routs Edgewood

Middletown guard Cliff Snow is covered by Wilmington guard Jeffery Mansfield during their Division I sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Cliff Snow is covered by Wilmington guard Jeffery Mansfield during their Division I sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

The Middletown High School boys basketball team made quite the comeback after trailing Wilmington the entire first half.

Despite rallying from down as many as 17 points, the Middies just never could get over the hump to take a lead, and the Hurricane escaped with a 50-46 win Tuesday in a Division I sectional semifinal at Fairfield Arena.

Wilmington (13-9) advances to the sectional final Saturday against Oak Hills (21-3), which beat Edgewood 53-29 in the second game of the night. Middletown finishes 8-16 in Darnell Hoskins’ first season.

“That’s been the epitome of our season,” Hoskins said of the comeback falling short. “We consistently have chosen to dig a hole for ourselves, and we have to expend a ton of energy to come back and get back in the ballgame. Unfortunately, tonight it came back to bite us. Resilient effort by our bunch, but that’s just how it goes. I can’t think of a more valiant way to go out. Our kids gave it their best shot, and we just came up on the losing end.”

Middletown trailed the first 20-plus minutes of the game, including by a 30-17 score at halftime, but opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run to start the comeback. The Middies eventually tied the game on Cliff Snow’s three-point play with 3:21 left in the period and evened the score five more times, but couldn’t get the stop on the ensuing Hurricane possessions in the fourth quarter to give themselves a chance for the lead.

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Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte watches Edgewood guard Nick Noble fly out of bounds during their Division I sectional contest at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte watches Edgewood guard Nick Noble fly out of bounds during their Division I sectional contest at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte watches Edgewood guard Nick Noble fly out of bounds during their Division I sectional contest at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Their last opportunity to do so came when Snow’s wide open 3-pointer bounced off the inside of the rim with 8.7 seconds left. Wilmington’s Dylan Beaugard sealed the win going 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in the closing seconds.

“Our preparation was really, really good,” Hurricane coach Mike Noszka said. “We put a lot of time into our shooting, especially late in the season. Our offense has been an issue all along, but we handled the ball well and we shot it really well in the first half. What hurt us was we missed layups to start the second half, and when you miss layups it leads to the run-outs, but they came out with purpose, absolutely, in the second half. I was just proud of the kids, that we punched first, they counterpunched, and we were able to hold on.”

Wilmington took the first seven points of the game and was up 30-13 with 3:28 left in the second quarter with help from Matthew Smith’s four 3-pointers. They shot 60 percent as a team for the first half, while Middletown struggled on both ends of the floor and made just 6 of 25 field-goal attempts.

Middletown used the momentum from some early stops at the rim in the third quarter to find its stride on offense for the remainder. Snow and Nelson Rutledge finished with a team-high 13 points, while Beaugard led Wilmington with 18 points.

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Wilmington guard Jeffery Mansfield chases a rebound over Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Wilmington guard Jeffery Mansfield chases a rebound over Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Wilmington guard Jeffery Mansfield chases a rebound over Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

“We paid attention to detail defensively a little bit, and we understood it was win or go home, so a sense of desperation creeped in too,” Hoskins said. “Hopefully for our younger guys, they understand the magnitude of coming out ready to play and not digging a hole for yourself, what it actually means. We will regroup, have a great spring, summer and fall, and come back ready next year.”

Oak Hills 53, Edgewood 29: The Cougars had an 8-5 lead midway through the first quarter but didn't score again until Drew Reckart's buzzer-beating 3-pointer going into halftime.

From there, the Highlanders were in control, turning an 18-11 halftime advantage into the easy win as Ryan Batte scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for the Cougars (15-9).

“We were very heavy on ball control in the first half,” Edgewood coach John Thomas said. “We were trying to keep it a low-possession game, and we took a chance by opening it up a little bit after halftime, and you saw what happened.”

Eddie Driskell led Edgewood with 15 points, including scoring all eight of his team’s first-quarter points. No one else on the team had more than three points.

The Cougars finished with 14 turnovers, shot 34.5 percent and were outrebounded 31-19.

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Edgewood forward Jake Paulsen tries to mave past Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte on Tuesday night during Division I sectional action at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Edgewood forward Jake Paulsen tries to mave past Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte on Tuesday night during Division I sectional action at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood forward Jake Paulsen tries to mave past Oak Hills guard Ryan Batte on Tuesday night during Division I sectional action at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

“That’s a really good basketball team, Oak Hills, and I can’t say enough good things about (coach) Mike Price,” Thomas said. “Ever since I’ve been coaching, he’s been a great coach to talk to. He does a tremendous job, and I hope he goes all the way.”

Middletown 12-5-20-9—46

Wilmington 17-13-7-13—50

MIDDLETOWN (8-16): Nelson Rutledge 5 1 13, Cliff Snow 5 1 13, Aaron Jones 2 2 7, Christian Strother 3 2 8, Jomar Bailey 2 1 5. Totals: 17-7-46

WILMINGTON (13-9): Layne Griffith 1 0 3, Matthew Smith 4 0 12, Dylan Beaugard 5 7 18, Jeffery Mansfield 4 2 10, Chris Wolary 3 0 7. Totals: 17-9-50

3-pointers: M 5 (Rutledge 2, Snow 2, Jones), W 7 (Smith 4, Griffith, Beaugard, Wolary)

Edgewood 8-3-10-8—29

Oak Hills 12-6-24-11—53

EDGEWOOD (15-9): Tyrevis Hill 1 1 3, Drew Reckart 1 0 3, Trent Allen 1 0 2, Austin Scott 1 0 2, Ethan McCarty 0 1 1, Eddie Driskell 5 3 15, Garrett Gabbard 1 0 3. Totals 10-5-29

OAK HILLS (21-3): Nick Deifel 1 0 2, Jacob Berkemeier 1 0 2, Kyle Spille 0 1 1, Jacob Woycke 0 1 1, Isaac Holmes 2 0 4, Nick Strader 0 1 1, Cam Naber 2 2 6, Luke Rudy 5 1 14, Ryan Batte 8 5 22. Totals: 19-11-53

3-pointers: E 4 (Driskell 2, Reckart, Gabbard); O 4 (Rudy 3, Batte)

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Edgewood guard Garrett Gabbard drives to the basket Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game against Oak Hills at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Edgewood guard Garrett Gabbard drives to the basket Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game against Oak Hills at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood guard Garrett Gabbard drives to the basket Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game against Oak Hills at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge puts up a shot as Wilmington forward Chris Wolary defends during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge puts up a shot as Wilmington forward Chris Wolary defends during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge puts up a shot as Wilmington forward Chris Wolary defends during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood guard Drew Reckart attempts to drive on Oak Hills guard Jacob Woycke during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Edgewood guard Drew Reckart attempts to drive on Oak Hills guard Jacob Woycke during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood guard Drew Reckart attempts to drive on Oak Hills guard Jacob Woycke during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown forward Jomar Bailey puts in two points against Wilmington on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown forward Jomar Bailey puts in two points against Wilmington on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown forward Jomar Bailey puts in two points against Wilmington on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood guard Austin Scott is covered by Oak Hills forward Isaac Holmes on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Edgewood guard Austin Scott is covered by Oak Hills forward Isaac Holmes on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Edgewood guard Austin Scott is covered by Oak Hills forward Isaac Holmes on Tuesday night during a Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Wilmington guard Dylan Beaugard hangs on to a rebound as Middletown forward Christian Strother tries to make the steal during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Wilmington guard Dylan Beaugard hangs on to a rebound as Middletown forward Christian Strother tries to make the steal during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Wilmington guard Dylan Beaugard hangs on to a rebound as Middletown forward Christian Strother tries to make the steal during their Division I sectional game at Fairfield Arena on Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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